William McCants ’97, an expert on the Middle East, Islam and terrorism, will speak at Lander University in March as part of the university’s Jackson Endowed Lecture Series. The highlight of his campus visit is a public lecture titled “Political Islam, Terrorism and ISIS: Reflections on American Foreign Policy,” which will be held on Monday, Mar. 12, at 5 p.m. in the Abney Cultural Center Auditorium.
McCants, a native of Greenwood, earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Lander in 1997 and spent the following year studying in Egypt as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. He later earned an M.A. from the University of Arizona, as well as an M.A. and Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University.
He presently works on counterterrorism as a public policy manager at Google. He previously served the U.S. government as senior adviser on countering violent extremism at the State Department, and as program manager of the Minerva Initiative at the Department of Defense. McCants’ work in Washington, D.C., think tanks includes directing the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution, as well as work as an analyst for the Center for Naval Analyses, the Institute for Defense Analyses, and the Science Applications International Corporation. He was a fellow at the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from 2005-09.
McCants is author of the books “Founding Gods, Inventing Nations: Conquest and Culture Myths from Antiquity to Islam” (Princeton, 2011) and “The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State” (St. Martin’s, 2015); and is co-editor with Shadi Hamid of “Rethinking Political Islam” (Oxford, 2017). His articles have appeared in multiple media, including Foreign Affairs magazine, and in 2011 and 2012 Foreign Policy magazine named McCants as one of its Top 100 “Twitterati.” Additionally, he has provided commentary for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic and Fox News.
Lander President Richard Cosentino said, “Will McCants is one of Lander’s most successful alumni, and his success shows what our graduates can do in today’s globalized world. His expertise in international affairs and religion are a fitting memorial to the late Larry Jackson, Lander’s president emeritus, who shared an interest in these subjects and whose service was honored when this lecture series was created in 1992.”
While on campus, McCants will speak to Lander students during visits to classes in anthropology, history, philosophy, political science, religion and sociology. He will also meet with students that have studied abroad and discuss how this experience can produce lifelong skills.
Lucas McMillan, dean of Lander’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, said “Dr. McCants models the ambition and courage we hope our students will develop. By exposure to his successes, students will gain confidence in what they can accomplish with their Lander degrees.”
Doors to the Abney Cultural Center Auditorium will open at 4:30 p.m. on March 12, and McCants will be available in Lander’s bookstore, The Bearcat Shop, to sign copies of his books beginning at 4:15 p.m.
For more information about the Jackson Lecture Series, contact Lander’s College of Behavioral & Social Sciences at 864-388-8733.